Nash and Joyce set up Sussex success
A magnificent partnership between Chris Nash and captain Ed Joyce proved crucial as Sussex Sharks got off the mark in the Yorkshire Bank 40 with a 61-run Duckworth/Lewis victory over Northants Steelbacks.
The visitors to Wantage Road recovered from a terrible start to post 215 for seven from 40 overs, Nash cracking 95 from 106 balls and Joyce contributing a 90-ball 91 to a fourth-wicket partnership of 173.
Australian paceman Trent Copeland returned career-best one-day figures of 5-32, but the Steelbacks never looked like keeping up with the run-rate in a rain-hit reply.
Northants were in disarray at 122 for nine from 26.3 overs when the teams were forced off to herald a premature end.
After choosing to bat, Sussex lost Luke Wells in the third over when the opener edged a beauty from David Willey to Andrew Hall at first slip.
England Test wicketkeeper Matt Prior was then caught behind off Copeland, who duly bowled Rory Hamilton-Brown to make it 12 for three in the sixth over.
Showing admiral composure, Nash and Joyce steadied the ship before gradually moving through the gears.
By the time Joyce pulled Steven Crook to Copeland at short fine-leg, Sussex were back on course for a competitive total - although their innings finished with something of a stutter.
Copeland had Ben Brown lbw, Nash held at midwicket and Chris Jordan bowled to complete a second five-wicket haul in List A cricket.
Northants started steadily enough with the bat, but things soon went awry after Jordan pinned Stephen Peters lbw for 20 in the fifth over.
Steelbacks skipper Alex Wakely was deceived by a James Anyon slower ball and picked out backward point, before the same bowler accounted for Kyle Coetzer courtesy of Michael Rippon’s catch at mid-on.
With rain starting to fall - and his team well behind the Duckworth/Lewis par score - David Sales looked to up the ante but succeeded only in holing out to Prior in the deep off Liddle.
A 40-minute delay followed and, chasing a revised target of 184 in 33 overs, Northants were not able to recover.
Matthew Spriegel fell to Nash’s fine catch at mid-off off Michael Yardy, while Ben Duckett edged Liddle through to his opposite number Brown.
Liddle struck again when yorking Willey and Jordan bowled Hall and Crook - Northants’ top-scorer with 25 - before the rain intensified to put the hosts out of their misery.